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Dutch fans celebrate Uruguay victory

Around 50,000 Dutch fans erupted in a single joyful roar Tuesday as they watched their team qualify for the World Cup final on what was claimed to be Europe’s largest loose-standing TV screen.

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As the final whistle blew in Cape Town, supporters jumped for joy, punched the air and some even rolled on the ground in glee amid a cacophony of car hooters and vuvuzelas.

Wearing orange hats, shirts, sunglasses, wigs and boas, they clapped each other on the back wildly and waved Dutch flags as fireworks were set off on the Museumplein (Museum square) where an 88-square-metre (96.2-square-yard) mega screen had been erected outside of the famous Rijksmuseum.

Police estimated that between 40,000 and 50,000 people had gathered on the Amsterdam square, saying there was a “convivial commotion”.

City streets around the country were coloured orange by men, women and children donning clothing and adornments in the colour of the Oranje Elftal (Orange Eleven) and blowing noisily on all types of horns as they revelled in their victory.

Entire homes around the country have been covered in large orange sheets and many streets lined with small orange flags fluttering in the wind.

Mega screens had been erected in several cities, three in the southern city of Eindhoven, for Dutch fans to see the Netherlands qualify for its third World Cup final — their first since 1978 when they were beaten by Argentina.

“There are 25,000 people at the three big screen venues and another 5,000 more at other spots around town,” Eindhoven spokeswoman Peet Ryken told AFP.

“The atmosphere is cheerful. About 10 people fell ill, probably due to a combination of alcohol use and stress, but no serious incidents have been reported.”

About 700 travellers in transit watched the game on a giant screen installed at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

Several minutes after the final whistle, Dutch airline KLM announced that three extra flights from Schiphol will depart for Johannesburg on Saturday for Sunday’s final against either Germany or Spain.

Some 11.5 million people, out of a country of 16.5 million, were expected to watch the game on television, as Dutch media reported there was a shortage of large LED screens for rent.

In the run-up to the final, some 15,000 extra television sets per week had been sold, said one newspaper, about 40 percent more than usual.

The heart foundation, meanwhile, issued a warning that football supporters were up to 2.5 times more likely to suffer heart problems during such a key match, and called on fans to “stay calm”.

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